Employee Spotlight

“The exposure is great. I can dive in and not get bored—it’s like the military, always moving on.”

As a young Marine Corps Infantry Officer transitioning out of military service, Caleb K. had big decisions to make. How would he find the right place to start a new career? How would he know a new job would be challenging enough to keep him engaged? Where would his desire to serve continue to be valued and encouraged? He wasn’t about to step backwards after 9 years in the Marine Corps.

As with many vets, Caleb’s career search began within a network of friends and colleagues. He connected with SPA’s Dennis G., a Marine himself. Caleb liked what he heard about SPA’s commitment to the mission and SPA’s investment in its people. And then, as luck would have it, Caleb received three job offers on the same Friday afternoon, one from SPA and two others that offered a better compensation package. Time to decide.

In talking with various companies, Caleb realized he still had a lot to learn, despite his extensive academic and military training. He wanted the most challenging job he could find, and he wanted his work to make an impact, but he also knew he needed to build a foundation in the civilian world. SPA gave him the right feel for that—he liked SPA’s smaller (but growing) environment, the company’s contribution to national security, and employees’ ability to grow professionally in many directions. What finally tipped the scale for Caleb was SPA’s persistent reputation as a Washington Post Top Workplace.

Today Caleb is a Program Manager. He has been involved with a variety of projects supporting the Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is also studying Australia’s new Army LAND vehicle. “The exposure is great. I can dive in and not get bored—it’s like the military, always moving on,” says Caleb. 

He also appreciates the way SPA recognizes and promotes talent: “If you add value and produce, SPA rewards you and challenges you with more responsibility. Unlike the military, you don’t have to wait for time-in-grade or stay in your specialty’s lane.” Caleb is adding certifications in data analysis, data visualization, and machine learning to his credentials. He has already achieved certification for a modeling and simulation toolkit, and he further expects to start coursework for the rigorous Project Management Professional certification.

Caleb cites one more powerful factor in his decision to choose SPA. With three young children at home, he values the sense of family SPA creates for its employees. Work arrangements can be flexible and can include telecommuting, which helps greatly when kids are sick or it’s time for parent-teacher conferences. 

Caleb’s best advice for vets moving to the civilian world is to examine the total package. Know your true ability level and your personal and professional priorities. “If you want fame, power, and money, go for it, but also look for the common good.” Words to live by.

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